Shirin Pilaf Recipe
Pilav is the name given to rice when cooked. There are many varieties of rice dishes throughout the Middle East. It usually accompanies a stew and is eaten alongside it instead of bread.
According to ancient history, rice was grown in China about 7000 years ago. Merchants traveling West brought it to the region. There is an array of different varieties of rice, from long grain to short, from white to brown to red to black, from Basmati to Arborio and on and on.
One of my favorite ways of cooking rice is the Persian way where a crust is formed underneath called tahdeeg and it is buttery and crispy and tastes heavenly.
The Persians incorporate a wide assortment of ingredients and have created many different recipes for their traditional rice dish.
They usually use basmati rice. When basmati is cooked, it fills the air with a delightful aroma that permeates your kitchen and makes people hurry to sample the cooked warm rice.
In Armenian culture, a rice dish is called Pilaf. In Persian a rice dish is called Polow. I will give instructions as to how to cook Persian rice another time, but in this blog, the recipe is to make the sweet topping that is added to shirin Pilaf or Polow. You can make a large quantity of this and freeze in Ziploc bags and use as needed. It will keep in the freezer for 6 months.
4 large oranges, peeled (we will be using the peel and not the oranges)
8 oz slivered almonds
8 oz dried apricots sliced
1¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon saffron
4 ounces butter
4 ounces roasted pistachio meats (optional)
Peel oranges and sliver orange peel and leave in a bowl filled with water for about 8 hours, changing the water often.
After 8 hours, transfer the peels and their water to a stockpot. Add ¼ cup of sugar and boil till the orange peels are soft. Drain the water and set aside.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter, add the cooked orange peel, add 1 cup of sugar and sauté, taking care not to burn the sugar. Add the almonds; sauté for 5 minutes; add the saffron and 1/3 cup of water and lower the heat to let it cook until the water has evaporated. Add the apricots and the pistachios. Mix well and remove from heat.
Serve with cooked rice. I also like to candy extra orange peel in the same method to decorate the top of my rice with candied orange flowers.